"What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" --Matthew 7:9-11
My father doesn't quite fit this verse; he doesn't know how to give good gifts to his children. He will buy things for us that he thinks we'll like-- without knowing what we do like-- but he never gives us the gifts that we REALLY want; his affection, attention, and approval. His eyes do not look on us with love, but with scorn.
It is very hard to love a man like that. It's been hard to think of God as a loving Father, because I have no model for that. In my experience, a father is someone to be feared and avoided. A father is someone you try to speak to as little as possible for fear of enraging him.
I read a blog post recently about a child in the foster system (you can read it here). There was one part in particular that caught my attention
he wants to impress them, these strangers. He wants to win them over,
and so he brings his good report card along as tangible proof that he is
a child worth loving.
A child should never have to prove they are worth loving."
I've felt that way. It's really quite terrible. There's so much hope that is overshadowed by the fear of rejection. You have to wonder, "If my parents couldn't love me, how could anyone else possibly do so?" We were created by God to desire fellowship. There's a natural inclination to the family bond. Though my father is such a harsh and cold man, I strive to earn his approval; I strive to prove to him that I am worth loving. It hurts every single time.
I love Romans 8:15-16, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,
Father!" The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s
children." There's a contrast here; the spirit of bondage and fear, and the Spirit of sonship that makes us God's children. To be a child of God is to be rid of fear and bondage. The Bible says that God is perfect, and that God is love. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear
involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18)
"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and that is what we are!" --1 John 3:1 My heavenly Father is different from my earthly father. He is not a bigger version of my dad; that would be very bad for me. He is the perfect version of my dad, full of love and grace. He loves and cares for me. How incredible is He, that He would welcome me into His arms!!